Former president FW de Klerk.
JOHANNESBURG - Thirty years ago, on this day, former president FW de Klerk made a speech in parliament, announcing sweeping reforms, including the release of political prisoners like Nelson Mandela.
This marked the beginning of the long-awaited transition from apartheid to democracy.
The decision to release Mandela paved the way for the birth of a new South Africa.
In his opening address to parliament in 1990, De Klerk unbanned the African National Congress, Pan-Africanist Congress and South African Communist Party.
He also announced a moratorium on the death penalty and an end to the state of emergency.
Nine days later Mandela was freed from prison after 27 years behind bars.